Lawyers for Kilpatrick, dancer’s family clash in deposition

Detroit — Lawyers for former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and the family of a slain exotic dancer clashed Tuesday over whether Kilpatrick’s testimony in a civil lawsuit is completed.

Kilpatrick’s deposition testimony Tuesday in the Tamara “Strawberry” Greene case spanned more than five hours but included a lunch break as well as shorter breaks. That was on top of close to a full day of deposition testimony and legal jousting on July 29.

Normally, seven hours are allotted for civil depositions, but Chief U.S. District Judge Gerald E. Rosen granted another 90 minutes for Kilpatrick’s.

“As far as I’m concerned, we’re finished,” said Kilpatrick’s Detroit attorney, James C. Thomas, after Tuesday’s testimony wrapped up shortly before 3:30 p.m.

But Norman Yatooma, the Birmingham attorney representing Greene’s family, said much of Tuesday’s time was consumed by “Jim Thomas’ nonsense” and obstructionist legal tactics. He said he will make a motion to continue the deposition and seek sanctions against Thomas.

Thomas said Kilpatrick asserted legal privileges, but made good-faith efforts to answer. He denied obstructing the deposition. “While I do acknowledge there was banter, that is not unusual,” he said.

Greene, a dancer linked to a rumored party at the mayor’s Manoogian Mansion in the fall of 2002, was shot to death in Detroit on April 30, 2003. Her family is suing Kilpatrick and the city of Detroit, alleging the investigation into Greene’s unsolved murder was obstructed for political reasons. The defendants deny the allegations.

Kilpatrick, who declined comment as he was escorted to a courthouse conference room after the lunch break, was brought to Detroit from the federal prison at Milan. He is serving time for a state probation violation and awaits trial in U.S. District Court on felony fraud and tax charges.

Thomas would not say what privileges Kilpatrick asserted, but they could include a Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, spousal privileges related to communications with his wife, and privacy rights related to certain text messages.

The deposition of Christine Beatty, Kilpatrick’s former chief of staff, is set for completion Aug. 20.

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